Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – Great remedy for common colds
Chamomile is widely used in traditional folk medicine all over the world, especially in Europe and Asia.
I grow up in Europe, and during that time I was often seeking benefits from this herb, especially during winter and autumn, when common colds are frequent guests in any household.
The active constituents of chamomile have anti-inflammatory properties, and ease spasm and discomfort in the digestive tract, and it may also be used as a tonic for inflamed skin.
Chamomile tea may be used as a mild sedative, and is good for insomnia as well as many other nervous conditions. It is nervine and sedative especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time. Animal studies have shown that German Chamomile reduces inflammation, speeds wound healing, reduces muscle spasms, and serves as a mild sedative to help with sleep. Test tube studies have also shown that chamomile has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
Chamomile tea’s most well-known benefit is as a sleep aid. It is known for its relaxing and soothing properties and is often taken before bed to promote restful sleep.
Peter Rabbit’s mother was right to give him chamomile after he ate too much in Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden. Chamomile is helpful for a variety of stomach problems. It soothes stomach aches, eases the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, promotes elimination, and assists in overall digestion. It is often found in teas for digestion in combination with peppermint.
The ancient Egyptians used it to soothe menstrual cramps and now science is catching up. One study found that drinking chamomile tea raised urine levels of glycine, a compound that calms muscle spasms. Researchers believe this is why chamomile tea helps menstrual cramps.
Chamomile has documented immune boosting properties and helps in the fight against colds due to its antibacterial properties.
“The researchers found that drinking the tea was associated with a significant increase in urinary levels of hippurate, a breakdown product of certain plant-based compounds known as phenolics, some of which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. This could help explain why the tea appears to boost the immune system and fight infections associated with colds, according to the researchers.”
The Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks used chamomile flowers in a poultice and applied them to wounds to speed healing. They must’ve been on to something. In one study, rats given chamomile extract in their water experienced faster wound healing times.
“In a double-blind trial, the therapeutic efficacy of chamomile extract was tested on 14 patients. As objective parameters served the epithelial and drying effect on weeping wound area after dermabrasion of tattoos. The period of the healing and drying process was judged by the doctor. The decrease of the weeping wound area as well as the drying tendency was statistically significant.”
Chamomile tea is being studied for its beneficial effects in the management of diabetes. In one study, daily consumption of chamomile tea was found to prevent the progression of diabetic complications and hyperglycemia. BBC recently announced, that “drinking chamomile tea daily may help prevent the complications of type 2 diabetes, such as loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, a study says”.
“Active ingredients” of Chamomile
The medicinal uses of chamomile stem from bisabolol and couramin, two natural, volatile oils found primarily in the flowers of the chamomile plant. Bisabolol, a powerful anti-inflammatory oil, also has anti-microbial and anti-anxiety effects, and is primarily responsible for chamomile’s ability to combat pain, infection, and restlessness. Fortunately, bisabolol has never been documented to cause unsafe drug interactions or negative side-effects, and is considered to be one of the safest natural medicines currently available.
Couramin, chamomile’s other constituent, active oil, may have negative effects in people who are taking blood-thinners, and massive amounts of it (far more than could be consumed through chamomile tea) can be acutely toxic. Those with severe hemorrhagic disorders and those taking warafin and other anticoagulants are cautioned to avoid the medicinal use of chamomile, to to the risk of hemorrhage. Other couramin-containing plants, such as vanilla, should also be avoided by high-risk consumers.
Ways to use it
Relaxing tea: To 1 cup boiling water add 2 tsp. dried flowers. Steep covered for 10 min.
For Bath: Use 1 cup fresh or dried herb tied in linen bag. Place in tub with hot water let soak for 15 minutes, then add cold water to adjust the temperature to your liking.
You can also use this tea to rinse your hair after shampooing if you intend on lightening your hair naturally. Strain the chamomile flowers and collect the liquid in a bowl. Wash your hair as usual and use the chamomile tea as a final rinse. When you pour it through your hair, catch it into the bowl again and rinse it through your hair several times this way.
Allergic reactions to chamomile are commonly reported. Hypersensitivity reactions include anaphylaxis, dermatitis, GI upset, lacrimation, and sneezing. 36 , 37 , 38 In large amounts, the dried flowering heads are reported to be emetogenic. 39 Anaphylaxis resulting from chamomile-containing enemas has been documented, 40 as well as allergic conjunctivitis caused by chamomile-containing eye drops.
Manifestations of allergy are suggested to be dependent on the route of ingestion. Asthma, bowel cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting related to oral intake via tea have been reported; inhalation of the essential oil predominantly manifests as asthma.
Cross-reactivity is reported among people allergic to ragweed, asters, chrysanthemums, and other members of the Asteraceae family.
I’ve read yesterday an excerpt of a speech held recently in Hungary by an old hungarian medicine man (Gyorgy Szabo) – he stated that chamomile overuse may cause irreversible problems with the lining of the intestines, so it should not be used extensively over a long period of time.